It is common practice to cook food before eating, to enhance its taste and, most importantly, kill any disease-caused organisms that may be contained in it. However, many foods such as fruits, nuts, and even some vegetables are eaten raw. In many cultures around the world, this is not often the case when it comes to fish. Noting this, there is also an increase in the number of people willing to try raw fish for the first time thanks to dishes like sushi (sashimi, nigiri, and maki rolls…). Those who have made this their tradition may not have a problem with it, but if it is your first time it is okay to ask the question, is raw salmon good for me?
There are many advantages of eating fish, as they are loaded with nutrients. Take for instance, eating salmon reduces the likelihood of a person becoming obese and suffering from diseases such as diabetes, cancer, and heart disease. We have already established that salmon can be eaten raw because millions of people are already doing it. However, one needs to know how long is it okay to eat raw salmon and even the quantity consumed. You may have been told of the many benefits of raw salmon, but you also should also consider the associated risks.
Benefits Of Eating Raw Salmon
How good is raw salmon for you? Eating raw salmon eliminates the need to cook it, especially when you have time constraints. Still, it is not caught from the sea and eaten immediately. A lot goes into its preparation to make sure you eat a healthy product and in the correct proportion. This comes with several benefits, such as the reduction of the number of unhealthy chemicals consumed. This is because you will be eliminating processed foods and other cooking ingredients. Some of the benefits of eating raw salmon include (13):
Salmon has a high protein content, and for that reason, it can keep you feeling satisfied for longer and provide you with sustained energy. The body utilizes the protein in salmon to build as well as repair tissues. This is important, especially for people who are working out to cut down on weight because they will reap overall muscular health benefits. It is for this reason that salmon nutrition is a key component of many weight-loss diets (5).
Read More: How To Break A Weight Loss Plateau?
Reduces Risk Of Depression And Anxiety
Is raw salmon sushi good for you? Raw salmon has plenty of Omega 3 fatty acids. Among other benefits, these fatty acids reduce anxiety and depression. There is also a connection between a strong immune system and a reduced risk of depression and anxiety. This is because as the body and brain absorb enough nutrients, different systems increase their ability to fight stimulants that could trigger depression and anxiety (11).
Prevention Of Cell Damage
The antioxidants present in raw salmon help boost cell and tissue repair. Furthermore, salmon has selenium, a mineral-rich in antioxidants. Your overall wellness is dependent on having healthy cells and the ability to fight against free radicals (8).
Reducing The Risk Of Cancer
Among the many nutrients present in raw salmon are astaxanthin, niacin, choline, vitamin B6, vitamin D, CoQ10, and Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids. These nutrients are believed to reduce the risk of several cancers, including prostate and breast cancer (2).
Enhancing Brain Function
When raw, salmon has a very high level of DHA. These are the main structural fatty acids in the central nervous system. The fatty acids help to develop the brain and its function. The DHS stimulates brain growth and is recommended in prenatal vitamins and baby formula, but raw salmon is not the best source in such situations (6).
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B-Vitamins contained in raw salmon help the body to feel energized. They also improve memory as well as enhancing positive mood. Many people lack B-Vitamins. Thus, the consumption of raw salmon can be of great benefit to them. The B-Vitamins are also believed to be responsible for the increment of testosterone levels in men (3).
Raw salmon is a good source of vitamin D. This nutrient is essential for maintaining normal blood levels of calcium and phosphorus, the two most important components for strengthening bones. Vitamin D, therefore, helps in teeth and bone formation (1).
Promotes A Healthy Heart
The fish oil in salmon is believed to reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. Raw salmon has what is referred to as heart-healthy oils, which help support a person’s overall health. In addition to that, they also promote healthy blood circulation, thus contributing to heart health (9).
Risks Of Eating Raw Salmon: It May Pose A Health Risk
Like other raw foods, raw salmon may contain bacteria, parasites, and other disease-causing organisms. Some of these pathogens occur naturally in the fish’s environment, while others are introduced to the fish as a result of improper handling. For this reason, salmon may be cooked to kill the pathogens because eating it raw could lead to infections.
- Parasites in raw salmon: Salmon is a known source of parasites (organisms that live on/in other organisms). The common types of parasites in salmon are helminths. They are similar to tapeworms and can live in your small intestines, where they may grow to over 12 meters long. A helminth infection has symptoms such as abdominal pain, diarrhea, weight loss, and anemia (12).
- Bacterial and viral infections from raw salmon: Seafood, including salmon, are easily exposed to bacterial or viral contamination. This can cause those eating raw salmon illnesses ranging from mild to serious. Some of these bacteria or viruses include norovirus, hepatitis A, Listeria monocytogenes, Clostridium botulinum, vibrio, salmonella, and shigella (14).
- Environmental contaminants: Raw salmon may also contain traces of environmental contaminants such as persistent organic pollutants and heavy metals. Toxic chemicals such as industrial manufacturing chemicals, pesticides, and flame retardants are stored in salmon’s fatty tissue. These chemicals increase the risk of congenital disabilities, cancer, and immune, endocrine, and reproductive disorders (10).
How To Minimize The Risk Of Foodborne Illness?
Is salmon good for you? The answer can be yes and no. First, you have to follow several guidelines to minimize the risk of foodborne illnesses; otherwise, the salmon will not be good for you. Is raw salmon and tuna good for you? Below are some of the guidelines that can make raw salmon safe for consumption:
- If you want to consume raw salmon because of the calories in salmon, then you ought to ascertain whether or not it has been previously blast-frozen to a temperature of about -31°F (-35°C), which kills parasites that may have found their way into the salmon. However, blast-freezing still does not kill all pathogens.
- Most home freezers do not get cold enough, to the temperature recommended for blast-freezing.
- Before you buy raw salmon, check it carefully. If it has been frozen properly, it should look firm and moist but with no bruising, discoloration, or off-odor (4).
- When preparing raw salmon in your kitchen, ensure that surfaces, knives, and other utensils you will be using are clean. Also, keep the salmon refrigerated and bring it out just before serving as a measure for preventing contamination.
- If you are eating raw salmon and suddenly your mouth or throat feels tingly, the possibility is that a live parasite could cause the feeling, so the safe thing to do is spit it out or cough it up.
- If you entirely don’t like the idea of raw salmon, you may opt for undercooked salmon, which will still give you the same benefits as the raw one.
Who Should Not Eat Raw Salmon?
Some people are at a higher risk of getting foodborne illnesses; this means they should avoid raw salmon or even other raw seafood types. Some of the people in this category include:
- Pregnant women
- Older adults
- People with weakened immune systems like those who have cancer, HIV/AIDS, diabetes, liver disease, and those with organ transplants (7)
Is raw salmon good for you? Occasional salmon dishes can be a good and tasty treat, but it needs to be done carefully and in moderation. This is one of the ways you can increase the intake of more seafood for their nutritional benefits. With this in mind, you could be at risk because raw salmon may contain bacteria, parasites, and other harmful toxins. Before eating raw salmon, make sure that it has been stored well and prepared properly without contamination. Lastly, make sure you are not in the category of people who should not eat raw salmon and other raw seafood.
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This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- An Evaluation of the Vitamin D3 Content in Fish: Is the Vitamin D Content Adequate to Satisfy the Dietary Requirement for Vitamin D? (2007, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Association of frequent consumption of fatty fish with prostate cancer risk is modified by COX-2 polymorphism (2007, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) require increased dietary levels of B-vitamins when fed diets with high inclusion of plant based ingredients (2016, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Food-Borne Disease Prevention and Risk Assessment (2020, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Health benefits of salmon (2021, medicalnewstoday.com)
- Individual differences in EPA and DHA content of Atlantic salmon are associated with gene expression of key metabolic processes (2019, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Make smart seafood choices to minimize mercury intake (2014, health.harvard.edu)
- Nucleoprotamine diet derived from salmon soft roe protects mouse hippocampal neurons from delayed cell death after transient forebrain ischemia (2003, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Omega-3 in fish: How eating fish helps your heart (2019, mayoclinic.org)
- Persistent Organic Pollutants in Food: Contamination Sources, Health Effects and Detection Methods (2019, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Salmon May Help Relieve Depression (2002, webmd.com)
- Sushi Lovers Warned About Parasites (2017, webmd.com)
- The Health Benefits of Salmon (2019, webmd.com)
- Viruses of Fish: An Overview of Significant Pathogens (2011, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)